I actually first fell head over heels in admiration of Winser London founder Kim Winser after reading an article she wrote for Forbes. It was titled "Why do we use sex to sell clothes?" and it's worth a read. So very candidly, I'll say I was seduced by the business of Kim Winser. However, I am certainly not alone. Kim was awarded an OBE in 2006 for her services to fashion in the UK, as she's transformed companies such as M&S, Agent Provocateur, and Pringle of Scotland - to name a few- and she's managed to do it all quite discreetly. When was the last time 'discrete' was used in the world of fashion? Yeah, you get my point. She's a powerhouse that takes pleasure in making waves in the industry without covering the tabloids to do so and her latest project may just be one of her most successful yet and it's only been in existence a year.
Kim Winser founded Winser London a year ago this month. While most brands are usually struggling to find their feet after a year, it appears Winser London has not only found it's feet, it's also found it's wings. This company is truly soaring. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We sat down with Kim Winser to rack her brands on all things Winser London and how she found herself sitting where she is today.
1. Can you give us a bit of history on how the whole concept started?
I was passionate about an area in the market which was not being fulfilled, the area of fashionable clothes at amazing prices. Far too many brands load up their prices by using so many middle men all adding to the cost of the products, but I was clear I wanted the quality of the luxury brands- no less. I looked at buying another brand to develop but so many are structured in an old fashioned way and I wanted a modern business model.
2. And your background in fashion?
My career has always been in fashion and retail working here in London, New York, Hong Kong, Milan and Paris. I started in M&S as a management trainee, then Pringle of Scotland, Aquascutum, Agent Provocateur and worked as a special advisor with a few including French Sole, Brooks Brothers and Net-a-Porter. I've been lucky to meet and work with some of the world's greatest in this space from Ortega (founder of Zara) and Sam Walton (Founder of Walmart) to Mickey Drexler (J Crew).
3. You are, of course, a mainly online retailer. Can we talk a bit about how the world is evolving with online? These days so many women are led by blogs and social media in general when it comes to clothing. How does Winser fit into this stratosphere?
I love the digital space and how it has allowed the truth to be available about brands. too often all you could find about a brand was its own marketing campaigns, not its real words and images from real customers. I believe in time it will also expose the ridiculous extra costs some brands lost onto their priced for the innocent customers to pay - you wait and see...
4. Amazingly, after only six months you had people like Harvey Nichols knocking on your door to carry the brand. First of all, that must have felt pretty amazing! Is this something you are hoping to continue with, placing the brand in more bricks & mortar stores?
Yes, a very exciting start, only 6 months old and given a super section in Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge. Since then it has worked so well we are now available in their Edinburgh store, and shortly also in Bristol. Then Peter Jones launched us too and now we are available in 6 further John Lewis stores alongside the Alice Temperley and Ralph Lauren ranges. We have our own store in Gerrads Cross and shortly in Rossiters in Bath too. Internally we have opened in Kores and will open our website to international ordering as we celebrate our first anniversary this month.
5. While the entire collection for spring summer 2014 has us drooling, is there one item you believe belongs in every woman's closet from this collection?
I'm sorry, it is impossible to say one. If you are like me and you love good knitwear, our Audrey Cashmere jumper and coatigan are gorgeous. Our silk shirts are a must, each made from a delicious quality silk with a tough of lycra to help if you are on the go all day or travelling. And the dress to buy has to be the miracle dress as featured by so many fashion editors.
A few fun ones...
6. What do you do to relax?
Nothing better for me than walking with my spring spaniel and then a pub lunch with friends afterwards.
7. Favourite place to eat in London?
I love Bocco di Luppo on Archer Street.
8. Secret spa retreat?
Stoke park out of town or Grace in London.
9. Best advice for style.
Always choose your own style over fashion, whether a girl or a lady, looking stylish in clothes is a winning formulae.
10. Advice you would pass on to your thirteen year old self...
Kim do follow your passion, be prepared for hard work and always find time to enjoy life and laugh.